POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Hebrews 13:2 in the ESV

Here is a weird English grammar factoid that a friend of mine and I just ran across.  Last Tuesday in meeting at the church, one our staff was leading a devotion in Hebrews 13:2 and said, hey there is a typo in the ESV. It reads:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares

I thought, look er there – a typo.  So...I had been in recent conversation with Crossway about the little review I wrote for the ESV journaling bible that they were putting up on the ESV blog – so I took the chance to bring up Hebrews 13:2 with them to maybe correct the old ESV.
They told me that the “unawares” dates back to the RSV which follows the KJV – I just thought – well that is stupid reason to have!  Boy, was I wrong.  In looking at the sentence construction it turns out that the word unaware would need to be an adverb which modifies the way “some” have entertained angels.  It should be something like “unawarely” – but of course this is no word.   So, my friend and I looked up “unawares” in old Websters and wouldn’t you know.  There is a word that means “unawarely” – yep, you guessed it – unawares.

Main Entry: un·awares
Pronunciation: -'werz
Function: adverb
Etymology: un- + aware + -s, adverb suffix, from Middle English, from -s, genitivesingular ending of nouns -- more at -S
1 : without design, attention, preparation, or premeditation
2 : without warning : SUDDENLY, UNEXPECTEDLY

You can see the whole entry here.

So, if you are preaching Hebrews 13 in the English Standard Version – know that the ESV actually gets it right here and it isn’t a typo – who knew, I was piping off to Crossway confidently but unawares.

The ESV has proven to be very faithful and accurate again - and using proper English as well.  And  ain't it cool to use proper English?